30 April 2009

Is Arjuna Ignorant?

I was reading the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita and a significant point struck me. The following are the ways in which Arjuna addresses Krishna.

acyuta- O infallible one (1.21-22)
Kesava- O killer of Kesi Demom (1.30)
Madhusudhana- Killer of demon Madhu (1.32-35)
Madhava- husband of Goddess of fortune (1.36)
Janardhana- maintainer of the people (1.43)

acyuta describes the nature of Krishna. Kesava, Govinda and Madhusudhana describe His power and the lilas in which He displays it. Madhava is associated with Sri Lakshmi in Vaikunta. Janardhana is again describing Krishna as the provider.

Primarily, this shows that Arjuna is already fully aware of Krishna's transcendental position. His questions in the battle field are for the benefit of other like us struggling in the material world.

Secondly, I recently heard in a lecture given by a devotee that in the spiritual world no one is unaware of Krishna's supreme position. If mother Yashoda is anxious to protect her son from the dangers, it is not that she is unaware of His powerful position.

Her bhava or relationship with the Lord is that of a parent and every parent is anxious for the welfare of her child. The vatsalya bhava or the parental love for Krishna in mother Yashoda's heart takes a superior position to the knowledge of Krishna as the Supreme person.

Similarly Arjuna is fully aware of the Supreme Position of Krishna but again his love for Krishna in Sakhya bhava as a friend has taken precedence. Hence he was able to associate with Krishna in a playful mood.

29 April 2009

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.8.43

This discourse is on the last stanza of Queen Kunti's Prayers from Srimad Bhagavatam given by HG. Stoka Krishna Prabhu in Chennai.

śrī-krsna krsna-sakha vrsny-rsabhāvani-dhrug-
yogeśvarākhila-guro bhagavan namas te

O Krsna, O friend of Arjuna, O chief amongst the descendants of Vrsni, You are the destroyer of those political parties which are disturbing elements on this earth. Your prowess never deteriorates. You are the proprietor of the transcendental abode, and You descend to relieve the distresses of the cows, the brāhmanas and the devotees. You possess all mystic powers, and You are the preceptor of the entire universe. You are the almighty God, and I offer You my respectful obeisances.

Sri Krishna is the possessor of unlimited opulences. 'Sri' indicates unlimited opulences. Today we use 'Sri' to refer to anyone with out any reservations. But it is appropriate only for Sri Krishna for He is 'Sarva loka anishvaram'-proprietor of all planets. Govinda, the proprietor of Goloka sometime comes to the material world. Goloka has unlimited Surabhi cows.These cows give unlimited milk which tastes like nectar. Krishna is engaged in taking care of these cows.

People wonder as how God can be a cow herd boy. Generally in India we tell a good-for-nothing boy to go and graze cows. Then how to understand Krishna is the Supreme Lord?

Kunti Maharani is saying the Lord who is tending to the cow in not an ordinary person. He comes from Chintamani Dhama. We simply cannot imagine a place where every building is built with gems. Krishna is served by 1000s of Lakshmis.Krishna is not a poverty stricken cowherd boy. He comes to the matrial world out of compasion for the living entities.

He is identified by those who have love for Him. Hence it is mentioned 'Krishna Saka'. He is particularly pleased when He is addressed in relationship with his devotees because of His love for them. He appeared in Vrishni dynasty where his devotee Vasudeva appeared.

There were some rebellious kings who were creating disturbances on earth. Krishna destroyed the dynasities of such kings.

apavarga-vīrya- Krishna's power never diminishes. Hiranyakashipu was so powerful that he even challenged Lord Brahma.But when Lord Narasimha came Hiranyakashipu's power became useless.The demon challenge out of ingnorance. The source all power is Krishna.

Krishna descend to protects cows, brahmanas and his devotees. He declares in Bhagavad Gita that His devotee never perishes. But people may now ask why Krishna has not come now? There are so many rebellious rulers on earth.

Krishna has come in a different kind of incarnation. 'Kali kale nama rupa'- He has come in the form of His holy name. So simply chanting His holy name we can get all protection just like who devotees got protection in Dwapara Yuga.

To cite an example Srila Prabhupada went to USSR and instructed one boy called Ananta Shanti Dasa. Ananta Shanti Dasi started to chant and preach Krishna Consiousness. The government tried to stop him but he didnt stop. As the preaching spread the communist government fell down due to holy name. If we take shelter of the holy name we will be protected just like it happened 5000 years ago when Krishna was here.

Chanting of the holy name will destroy the demoniac mentality in people. It is very powerful, we may not be able to percieve it. Sankirtana Movement is not able to be stopped by anyone because it is non different form Krishna Himself.

yogeśvarā- Krishna is the source of all mystic powers. Krishna and His holy name- this combination is full of opulences. This means absolutely no scarcity. He is the master of all opulences. His devotee who chant His holy name everyday have no scarcity.

ākhila-guro bhagavan namas te- Krishna is the master of the entire Universe and the pocessor of all opulences. He protects His devotees and His protection is spiritual and not material.

28 April 2009

Prayers of the Personified Vedas

"The Vedic process is to gradually promote the conditioned soul gradually from the mode of ignorance to the mode of passion and from the mode of passion to the mode of goodness. In the mode of goodness there is sufficient light for understanding things as they are.

For example, from earth a tree grows, and from the wood of the tree, fire is ignited. In that igniting process we first of all find the smoke, and the next stage is heat, and then fire. When there is actually fire, we can utilize it for various purposes; therefore, fire is the ultimate goal. Similarly, in the gross material stage of life the quality of ignorance is very much prominent. Dissipation of this ignorance takes place in the gradual progress of civilization from the barbarian stage to civilized life, and when one comes to the form of civilized life, he is said to be in the mode of passion. In the barbarian stage, or in the mode of ignorance, the senses are gratified in a very crude way, whereas in the mode of passion or in the civilized stage of life, the senses are gratified in a polished manner. But when one is promoted to the mode of goodness, one can understand that the senses and the mind are only engaged in material activities due to being covered by perverted consciousness.

When this perverted consciousness is gradually transformed into Krsna consciousness, then the path of liberation is opened. So it is not that one is unable to approach the Absolute Truth by the senses and the mind. The conclusion is, rather, that the senses, mind and intelligence in the gross stage of contamination cannot appreciate the nature of the Absolute Truth, but, when purified, the senses, mind and intelligence can understand what the Absolute Truth is. This purifying process is called devotional service, or Krsna consciousness.

This is from Krishna Book 87th Chapter. Prayers of the Personified Vedas.

27 April 2009

English as Official Language

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where! More komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as Replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vordskontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

26 April 2009

Oscar Winner A.R.Rahman

Not many know that AR Rahman, the Oscar award winning Music composer often hailed as the Mozart of Chennai is a Brahmin by birth. Read this excellent background information that not many of us probably do not know despite all the publicity he has reaped consequent to his winning the double Oscars from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the US.

The Malayalam Motion Picture Industry have always portrayed Rahman's father, RK Sekhar as one of their own which is the popular impression until Tamilnadu claimed Rahman as one of their own sons. Read the interesting bio: A.R.Rahman was a Palghat Iyer Brahmin who migrated to Chennai. His name was Dilip & he also studied in the famous Padma Seshadri School where Brahmin Students were dominant. I'm proud that I'm also an alumini of that school & Rahman too is an alumini.AR Rahman, born in 1966 as Dilip Kumar is the son of RK Sekhar and Kasturi.

His Grand Father Rajagopal Bhagavathar is from Kizhanoor nearChennai and was a popular Harikatha kalakshepam expert. His Father was a Malayalam movie music director. He scored music for just 22 films but was a music arranger and composer for over 100 Mlayalam films.

Apart from having composed many beautiful hit songs, it is said that his was the genius behind the success of many famous composers and their famous songs. It is said that R K Sekhar had a rare mastery over harmonium. Blessed with a deep knowledge of Indian traditional music as well as western music, he was the music arranger for Devarajan, Dakshinamurthy, A.T. Ummer, M.K. Arjunan and others.

When Salil Chowdhury composed music in Malayalam for films like Chemmeen, R K Sekhar served as his assistant and music conductor. In his early days when Ilayaraja played Combo Organ and Guitar for the songs of Salil Chowdhury and Devarajan, it was R K Sekhar who arranged and conducted it.R K Sekhar who learnt the grammar of music by and large on his own, garnered the framework of Carnatic music from Dakshinamurthy. It is said that even composers like S.D. Burman, recognizing his talent in arranging music, invited him to assist him in Hindi film music. He was the music composer for music director Kumar's first film Neerkumuli, a Tamil hit directed by K Balachander.At his age of 31, R.K. Sekhar, married 17 years old Kasthuri. Their wedding was conducted in Tirupati and they lived in Chennai.

Kanchana, the daughter was their first child. Then came Dileep their only son, followed by the girls Bala and Rekha. R K Sekhar had the ear and special talent to recognize the potential of new sounds of music instruments. It was his habit to travel to Singapore to understand the latest trends in music instruments. He introduced to South Indian music the early synthesizers like Univox and Claviolin. In those days only international music bands had them. R K Sekhar introduced Balamurali Krishna and S.P. Balasubramaniam to Malayalam film songs in the film Yogamullaval. R K Sekhar had introduced many new singers to Malayalam film industry like Brahmanadan, etc.A music fanatic and a workaholic, R K Sekhar worked day and night rehearsing songs, arranging music and recording songs without sparing time for either food or sleep. He literally lived in the recording studios with only tea and dry bread for food and an occasional nap. As a result, he contracted chronic ulcer. Finally, he had to move from hospital to hospital for treatment as the disease reached terminal stage. His assistants went and waited in hospitals to write down the music scores as he dictated them from bed, amidst excruciating pain.
In 1977, R K Sekhar passed away in his 42nd year. Dileep, the now Mozart of Madras, was just eleven then.R K Sekhar's daughter Kanchana is also a good singer and today her son GV Prasad is a music director to reckon with and has made music for hits like Kreeedom, Veyil,Unale Unale,Pollathavan, Seval, Vellithirai and, of course, Rajini's Kuselan. His father, Venkatesh is a business man. Rahman's mother became Rahana when his entire family converted to Islam.

There are many positive traits Rahman has picked up by ancestry. Like his Father, Rahman was innovative and ready to absorb and blend foreign music to his original score. He like his father was always a keen ear for new, fresh talent. He probably started living his father's dream but has surely surpassed it, long ago."The memories of my father remain my inspiration. I have seen famous film music personalities and film directors of those years waiting for my father in the verandah of our house.

Father used to work for eight or nine films at a time. I think he died of excessive exertion. Beneficiaries have recounted to me how my father helped them, how he created opportunities for them. I was very moved by all that...."On another occasion A R Rahman said: "My mother has told me a lot about my father. Hearing them gave me great pleasure. Father was greatly regarded as one well-versed in Music. I listen to his old songs even now. I believe that by God's grace I have inherited a small part of his great genius in music." So we can more or less understand the seed of his music. But what made him special is the faith and spiritual experience he underwent. In his sorrow-filled days, Dileep found consolation in Islamic faith. It is said that in 1988, when his sister was in death-bed suffering from the same disease as his father and all efforts to save her reached a dead-end, a Muslim Sufi Pir saved her. After this event the entire family converted to Islam. Dileep changed his name to Allah Rakha Rahman, in short A R Rahman.Dileep's initiation in music happened in the early years. He obviously took the first music lessons from his father, RK Sekhar.

He also began to formally learn Indian classical music, carnatic from Dakshinamoorthy and N. Gopalakrishnan, Hindustani from Krishnan Nair,film music from Nithyanandham and Western Classical from Jacob John( aka Jim, an Orthodox Christian from Kerala who was an ace pianist of his time!).All this learning experience enabled him to earn a scholarship to the famed Trinity College of Music at Oxford University London, from where he obtained a degree in Western Classical Music. He also learnt the Sufi Qawwali style from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, in 1997 and Ghazzals from our own Hariharan.

Rahman has always been immensely spiritual. The faith in god and his attraction to sufi music is visible in his creations. His patriotic Vande Matram is still the popular soul song of India. The Airtel tune, The stamp song of most popular TV channels down south are all his creations.

In his own words-"We get our basic recognition from this country and it is a part of you, whether you are Hindu or Muslim or anything else, the Koran says, 'at the feet of the mother lies the Jannat'. And the Prophet says, 'Whichever country you are in, youhave to respect the laws of the land, because it is the land above all, which gives you life.' " So a true Indian, a faithful Muslim, born Hindu, a Tamilian, influenzed by Malayalam music, married to Saira Banu whose father is a Gujarathi and mother Malayali, JUST TO WHOM DOES HE BELONG?

The reason for which he is thought about all over India today is his double award in Oscar for a film which is essentially an UK intellectual property based on an Indian's story shot in slums of India's financial capital. So is his success Indian or British? To whom does he belong at this time of glory?While getting the award, Rahman said "the essence of the film which is about optimism and the power of hope in the lives, and all my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I'm here. God bless" - If these words had come from any other mortal, it should have been seen with suspect, but coming from a sincere man dedicated to music, it should be seen as it is and thus it reveals that he belong to Love and Music.In his own words,"Music is language itself. It should not have any barriers of caste, creed, language or anything. Music is one, only cultures are different. Music is the language of languages. It is the ultimate mother of languages- Film music in India is like pop music in the West.

Movies are the channels for this music. But music stays on long after the films. - If a music artiste wants to blossom into a full-fledged person, it is not enough if he knows only classical music; nor is it enough if he is well-versed only in Raagas and techniques. Instead, he should be a knowledgeable person interested in life and philosophy. In his personal life there should be, at least in some corner of his heart, a tinge of lingering sorrow." And so, A R Rahman belongs to World Music and he cannot be confined to any boundaries.

After the award he was quoted by a foreign newspaper that Rahman hopes all the attention will encourage other young Indians to choose music as a future. We really need that space for creativity in India right now,' he said. 'Most of all, I just want that to be recognized.' He and his music belongs to us, all of us. Hope he remains what he is and by that he will grow only more taller, taking us along.

Natural Tips for Glowing Skin

  • Cucumber is a natural cleanser. Mix cucumber juice with milk and apply.
  • Cut a lemon and rub it all over the face. Wash it off after 20 minutes with cold water. If you have dry skin don't try this.
  • Carrot juice if applied daily will fade blemishes.
  • Crush a ripe banana and make it into a paste. Apply on face for 20 minutes.
  • Make a paste of red sandalwood powder and apply it on the face daily.
  • Mix tomato juice and honey and apply on the face and neck. Wash it after 15 minutes.
  • Use gram flour or gram floor mixed with milk instead of soap.

25 April 2009

A Special Visitor

Last night we had a special visitor. Mr Kitten. From nowhere this guy came in to our house at around 11pm. He took some special liking towards my husband. My husband is already an animal lover and what to say if some kitten takes to him. He immediately wanted to feed it with milk.

We found an appropriate cup and fed the kitten some milk. I guess it was hungry, for it lapped up the milk in a jiffy. It followed my husband in to the living room and everywhere he would go. Today morning it was waiting in front for the door to be opened. Looks like it has lost its mother and is loitering here and there without any fear.

24 April 2009

Making garland for my Deities at home

This is something I love doing everyday. I go to the nearby market and buy some jasmine and rose flowers and make beautiful garlands for my Sri Radha Krishna deities everyday. This activity gives a lot of peace of mind and fulfillment. Through out the time while doing these malas I try to sing and chant the holy names of Sri Krishna.

Some cool T shirts

I am in my 6th month of pregnancy and what's annoying in that none of my clothes fit me. I need to go in for all new clothes including my pyjamas. Last evening I went to a shop in Thiruvanmiyur called Cotton World and picked some cool pyjamas and T-shirts.

I was so excited to get some really cheap stuff there. I bought 4 T shirts for Rs 59 each (Approx 1.5$ only). 2 pyjamas for just Rs 60 each. My husband was beaming with joy when I picked up such low priced stuff. He thought I might do some big time shopping.

23 April 2009

A Difficult Place

Something interesting that I read recently:

Diary of a Traveling Preacher - Volume 10, Chapter 4 - February 2009
By Indradyumna Swami

“A Difficult Place”

The America that Sri Prahlada das and I flew into after our Australian tour was not the America I had visited a year earlier. The country was mired in recession, sinking into despair with financial problems. Unemployment had hit a twenty-five-year high, with 5.1 million people having lost their jobs since the beginning of 2008.

More than a million foreclosures had cast a shadow over the housing industry and sent a ripple of despair throughout the country. Particularly disturbing was a report that 1.5 million children would be homeless this year. Car sales had fallen by fifty percent, the U. S. Post Office was considering dropping one day a week from its delivery service, and tourism had dropped by twenty percent.

Everyone seemed to be affected. Many people I spoke to said they would need second jobs and were opting for shorter vacations and less-expensive homes. A storeowner told me that his sales of wedding gowns had decreased by thirty-three percent. “Brides are just being frugal,” he said. “They’re using their friends’ old wedding gowns.”

In California, a state senator went so far as to propose selling San Quentin, a 432-acre penitentiary with a breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay.

“Our inmates don’t need an ocean view,” he said. He estimated the property could realize $2 billion, even in a depressed market. It would boost the coffers of the world’s eighth largest, but slumping, economy.

Toward the end of our tour, while I was walking around the grounds of New Vrindavan in West Virginia, a devotee turned to me. “Maharaja,” he said, “has the recession affected your fundraising in the U. S.?”

“Of course it has,” I replied.

“Will you be able to do your festival tour in Poland this summer?” he asked.

“We’ll manage,” I said.

“Wow,” he said shaking his head, “these are really difficult times.”

“That’s not always negative,” I said. “Difficult times are the best for preaching Krsna consciousness. I was reading the other day that church attendance has risen by ten percent in many parishes in this country.”

“Really?” he said.

“In Bhagavad-gita,” I said, “Krsna lists distress as one of the four reasons people turn to Him.”

catur vidha bhajante mam janah sukrtino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur arthahi jnani ca bharatarsabha

“O best among the Bharatas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service to unto Me-the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge.” [Bhagavad-gita 7.16]

My godbrother Akhilananda das spoke up. “Yes,” he said. “I have plenty of experience about how difficulties push people to take up spiritual life. I work with ISKCON’s Prison Ministry, preaching in prisons throughout the state of Ohio. Many prisoners are receptive to our teachings.”

“A prison ministry would be an unusual service,” I said.

“Srila Prabhupada began prison preaching at Tihar Prison in Delhi in 1962, before he came to America,” Akhilananda said. “Similar attempts were made by ISKCON devotees here in the U. S. during the early ’70s, but it was the late ’80s before a devotee named Chandrasekara das actually developed the ministry.

“He was staying in the New Orleans temple and noticed that many of Srila Prabhupada’s books were lying around unused. He sent some of the books to the state-prison libraries in Louisiana. Inmates began writing to him, and eventually he started visiting them. Now he writes more than fifteen hundred letters a year to U. S. prison inmates and has a team of devotees who help him all over the country.”

“How did you get involved?” I asked.

“I heard about the program a few years ago,” said Akhilananda, “and I wrote to Chandrasekara asking if I could help. Afterwards I contacted a prison in Youngstown, Ohio, near where I live. I told the prison authorities I was a priest and would like to minister to the inmates. They enrolled me in a course that taught me about the prison system. It included dealing with prison riots, what to do if taken hostage, how to use mace-all that kind of stuff.”

“That’s interesting,” I said.

“Then I started a weekly evening program at the prison,” he continued. “The day before I began, the main chaplain told me, ‘This will be the best experience of your life.’ And I did find it to be so. Some inmates take Krsna consciousness very seriously, possibly because of the constant reminder of the miseries of material life. A few of them make quick spiritual progress. One man I’m ministering to recently took initiation in prison.”

My eyebrows went up.

“That’s right,” Akhilananda said. “Aaron was a convicted murderer, Jamaican by birth. Several years ago three white supremists attacked him in a bar. They broke a bottle over his head and beat him. An hour later, in a fit of rage, he ran over them with his car and killed one of them. He was sentenced to fifteen years to life. He became remorseful and suffered in prison. By the time I met him he was searching for an alternative in spiritual life. He took to Krsna consciousness immediately.

“He had plenty of time to chant and read Srila Prabhupada’s books because they have no work for the two thousand prisoners in Youngstown. He told me if you don’t get into something positive like Krsna consciousness, you’ll get into gang activity, and there are plenty of gangs in the jail like M13 or the Aryans or the Black Brotherhood. Sometimes there’s violence between them. Some of them even continue their drug trade from within the prison.”

“How’s that possible?” I asked.

“Somehow they do it,” he replied. “They use codes in phone conversations or in talks with visitors. They get notes out through family members and sometimes even bribe guards to pass messages for them. It’s a whole other world in there.

“After his initial contact with us, Aaron began regularly practicing Krsna consciousness. After three years he asked me if I could put him in touch with a spiritual master in ISKCON. He began corresponding with Bhaktimarg Swami, and the next year we arranged for Maharaja to come to the jail and initiate him.

“It caused quite a stir in the prison. All the inmates were talking about a mystic event. Of course, we couldn’t have a fire yajna, but Maharaja gave a lecture, chanted on Aaron’s beads, and gave him the name Arjuna dasa.

“A few days later Arjuna had another prisoner tattoo the mahamantra on his back. Tattooing is strictly forbidden in prison, and if a prisoner is caught with a new tattoo, he’s immediately put into solitary confinement. But Arjuna took the chance. He said gang members are identified by their tattoos and he wanted to make it clear he was part of the Krsna group, even though he was the only initiated devotee in the prison.”

“How in the world did another prisoner give him a tattoo?” I asked.

“They use a small spinning motor that they take out of a tape recorder and a staple dipped in baby oil that’s become black by being burnt,” he replied. “It’s a crude method, but I’ve seen some pretty amazing tattoos on the prisoners.

“Arjuna’s an artistic person himself, and he’s now doing paintings for several devotees’ books. With good behavior he could be released in ten years. When he does get out he’d like to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books because he’s seen how much they’ve helped him.”

“Have any prisoners become active in Krsna consciousness after they were released?” I asked.

“Many,” replied Akhilananda. “Ben Baker, a former member of the Aryan Brotherhood, did time and is now a dedicated preacher. He has a contract out on his life for renouncing the gang and taking to the non-violent path of Krsna consciousness.

“Another devotee who comes to mind is Sankirtan-yajna das, a disciple of Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja. In the early ’70s, before he went to prison, he joined the movement and traveled for several years, distributing books with the Radha-Damodar traveling sankirtana party. Unfortunately, after some time he left the movement and got involved in dealing drugs. He was eventually caught and did a number of years in prison. After his release he’s again become very active in distributing books as well as helping with Food for Life in Washington, D. C.”

“Huh?” said a devotee. “Why was he put in prison for selling a few drugs?”

“Not a few drugs,” said Akhilananda. “He was known as Mr. Weed among the drug dealers of his time. Once he smuggled an entire shipload of marijuana into the country. He owned five homes, a Lear jet, a thirty-five-foot yacht and a Mercedes limousine. He had two hundred people working for him. He was big time.”

“Wow!” said the devotee.

“During his drug runs he would sometimes meet devotees selling books in the airports,” continued Akhilananda. “He’d always surprise them by giving a thousand-dollar donation for a book.

“At his trial he was convicted of bringing marijuana worth more than three hundred million dollars into the country. The judge threw the book at him and gave him ten years in federal prison. Faced with a decade in jail, he had a change of heart and decided to become a devotee again.

“When he arrived at the prison to begin his sentence, some of his associates, who had already been jailed, had arranged a special cell for him, complete with a television, and someone to do his laundry. It was big news around the jail: ‘The Weed is coming.’

“But when he arrived he surprised his former cronies. He wasn’t interested in the facilities they’d provided for him. Each day he would invite them to his cell to chant with him and have a Srimad-Bhagavatam class. He encouraged them to become vegetarian. He devised a program where he taught some illiterate prisoners to read, using the Bhagavad-gita. On special days he’d arrange programs in the chapel, where he would make Jagannatha deities out of bread and have arati and big kirtans.

“Like Arjuna das, he used his time wisely, and thinking of his future devotional service, got an associate degree from Ohio University and a degree in agriculture from Penn State.

“When he saw that the members of the Sikh religion were allowed to wear turbans in jail, he successfully campaigned for the right to wear neck beads and carry a bead bag at all times. He even got the prison system to pay for sannyasis to come to lecture. He had at least five to ten bhaktas practicing Krsna consciousness at any one time.

“He attracted the attention of the prison authorities by keeping the yard clean and using small rocks and cement scraps to make a garden, complete with a fountain. When it came time for his release the warden joked with him. ‘Maybe you could stay a little longer,’ he said.

“After his release he received initiation from Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja and immediately took up the services I mentioned in Washington.”

A devotee chuckled. “Seems like prison is a good place to get serious about Krsna consciousness,” he said.

“That’s true,” I said, “but we are already in a difficult place and don’t have to end up in prison to become serious about spiritual life. The world we live in is called Durga-dhama in Sanskrit, which means the prison of material existence. There are four high walls around this gigantic prison: birth, disease, old age, and death. When one realizes this, one become serious about devotional service and tries to go back home, back to Godhead, as quickly as possible.”

That evening I found a quotation from Srila Prabhupada: “Sometimes in New Delhi I was invited to give some good lessons to the prisoners. So I have seen so many prisoners. They were shackled with iron chains, iron chains. So we are also chained up here, and what is that chain? That is our sense enjoyment. Yes. We are chained in this material world by sense enjoyment. That’s all. So if we want to cut our prison life, then the first symptom will be to minimize this sense enjoyment or to regulate the sense enjoyment.” [ Lecture, Bhagavad Gita, New York April 27, 1966 ]

Vettaiyadu Vilayadu

“An expanded mind is never contracted”. How true!

Sometime back I was traveling in bus and there was a movie shown to entertain the passengers. They had screened a movie called ‘Vettaiyadu Vilayadu’ directed by Gautham Menon featuring Kamal Hassan and Jyothika.

The movie is a thriller showing two psychopath killers on a spree of rape and murder. Some of the scenes in the movie were highly disturbing to me. Especially the one in which the killers suspend a finger of the victim in her boy friend’s car.

I watched this movie a couple of years ago. But somehow last night I was haunted by these images. My foolish mind put me in the victim’s position and I was driven to my wit’s end. So much that I had to seek the help of my husband to put my mind at ease.

I really wonder why such disturbing movies are taken. I wouldn’t watch it if given a choice. But on a bus you are forced to watch it when the noise of the movie is deafening you. Kids should be kept away from such disturbances or else they would suffer the trauma as I had to last night.

Hypocritical DMK

There’s a lot of hue and cry about Sri Lankan Tamils being killed and displaced in the war between LTTE and Sri Lankan army. Tamil Nadu government has called for a state level bandh today protesting against the atrocities on Tamils. But the irony of the incident is, the same Mr. Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is also an indirect cause for these atrocities. Let me say how:

The Congress government in New Delhi is said to have provided all arms and ammunitions including tankers to the Sri Lankan army. Ms Sonia Gandhi sought her revenge on LTTE for killing her husband Rajiv Gandhi. These were transported via Tamil Nadu by goods train to Thiruvananthapuram and hence forth went to Lanka by ship.

If this was prevented by the Chief Minister then, the Lankan army would have been ill equipped to carry out such an atrocious operation on the civilians. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister being the supreme hypocrite permitted the clandestine arms deal and today for the sake of elections he is shedding crocodile tears for Lankan Tamils. Shame on him!

22 April 2009

Semiya Payasam

  • Vermicelli/semiya - 1/2 cup
  • Milk - 4 cups
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Cardamom powder -1 tspn
  • Cashew/raisins for garnish
  • Ghee for roasting
Heat a kadai with a tablespoon of ghee. Add the cashews. When cashews starts to brown, throw in the raisins. Raisins will puff up and you remove the cashews and raisins from ghee. Add another teaspoon of ghee and roast the vermicelli till it starts browning.

Take a deep bottom vessel. Tip off the roasted vermicelli and 2 cups of milk. Bring to boil and cook in low flame. Keep adding the remaining milk at intervals. When the vermicelli is fully cooked and the rest of the milk is used up, add sugar. Simmer for few minutes so that the sugar is dissolved fully and the sweetness sinks into the semiya.

Add cardamom and roasted cashews and raisins. Since we like to drink it from a cup, it has a pouring consistency. If you want to serve as a pudding, increase the quantity of semiya and adjust sugar accordingly. You can serve this warm or chilled. Hot/Cold, it tastes awesome. This recipe is from Kailaskitchen.

21 April 2009

Bhagavad Gita Study

For some time I have been studying Bhagavad Gita. This has given me a deep sense of meaning to my life. Now I plan to study it with more conviction so that I may be able to not only understand and follow it in my life but also teach others. I will post some of my findings from the book regularly here.

For today I will discuss the first question asked by Arjuna to Lord Krishna in the battle field of Kurukshetra. The 18 day battle is all set to take place between two parties, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Both the sides are members of the same Kuru family and the battle is to decide the successor for the kingdom.

Lord Krishna is on the side of the Pandavas and acts as a charioteer to one of the five brothers, Arjuna. Just before the commencement of the fierce battle, Arjuna feels very compassionate towards his cousins, other relatives and his teacher on the other side and refuses to fight. He asks Lord Krishna to help him as he is confused about the proper discharge of his duties. He feels it is sinful to kill all his people for the sake of a mere kingdom.

This question is highly justifiable because it is based on the compassionate grounds. But Lord Krishna's answer reveals another strata of compassion and duty which is free of confusion and bewilderment.

The Lord refers to Arjuna's compassion as 'impurities'. He adds that this is not befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. This leads to infamy as people would say Arjuna ran away from the battle field due to fear.

Lord Krishna accuses Arjuna of mourning for what is not worthy of grief. The wise lament neither for the living nor the dead: now this is a profound statement. Why do the wise not lament for neither living nor dead?

The explanation is given by Lord Krishna as following:
  • Every living entity is eternal. Hence there is never a question of one not existing in the past or in the future.
  • 'As an embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.'
Next He goes about giving a detailed description on the nature of soul. I will write about that in my next post.

Most People Believe in Life after Death

Apr 19, LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (TELEGRAPH) — The majority of people in the UK believe in heaven and life after death, according to the findings of new research.

A survey of 2,060 people showed 53 per cent believe in life after death, 55 per cent believe in heaven and 70 per cent believe in the human soul. The study carried out between October and November last year for the public theology think tank Theos also showed nearly four in 10, or 39 per cent, believe in ghosts and more than a quarter (27 per cent) believe in reincarnation.

A further 22 per cent believe in astrology or horoscopes and 15 per cent believe in fortune telling or Tarot, the research revealed. Half of people in London, the highest proportion in the UK, believe in ghosts, the survey showed. Scotland had the highest number of people who believe in fortune telling or Tarot at 18 per cent and Wales had the highest proportion of people who believe in reincarnation at 32 per cent.

Theos said the comparison with the 1950s was "especially striking". In 1950, it said, only 10 per cent of the public told Gallup that they believed in ghosts, and just 2 per cent thought they had seen one. In 1951, only 7 per cent of the public said they believed in predicting the future by cards and 6 per cent by stars. But the organisation said the latest research showed an increase in scepticism about certain aspects of the supernatural.

In a 1998 Mori poll, 18 per cent of the public said they believed in fortune telling and 38 per cent in astrology. A further 40 per cent said they believed in ghosts, and 15 per cent said that they had personal experience of ghosts.

Theos director Paul Woolley said: "The enlightenment optimism in the ability of science and reason to explain everything ended decades ago.

"The extent of belief will probably surprise people, but the finding is consistent with other research we have undertaken. The results indicate that people have a very diverse and unorthodox set of beliefs. Our research may point to a slight increase in scepticism about aspects of the supernatural over the last 10 years."

20 April 2009

Riding in East Coast Road (ECR)

After I became pregnant we hardly went on bike rides. Last weekend we make an exception. My husband and I went for a happy ride on the East Coast Road (ECR) at late night after dinner. Sweltering heat and high humidity in Chennai drives everyone out doors. We were no exception.

This is my first summer in Chennai. Everyone has warned me against Chennai's summer but none of those warning had actually prepared me for the magnitude of discomfort it can give. By God's grace we have an AC fitted in our bedroom. Otherwise I would feel as though I am sleeping in a furnace.

Though I live very close to ECR, it is only recently that I got to go on that road. ECR is one of the happening roads in Chennai. Every other diversion on the left side of ECR leads to the golden beaches of Chennai. The entire stretch is studded with cool resorts and eat outs. Either side of the road is decorated with inviting drive-ins and shops that sell cool clothes.

We saw a row of shops that make elegant looking cane furniture. This was followed by a few shops selling terracotta stuff for decorating our homes. There were beautiful hanging chimes that make auspicious sounds. It can be hung on the ceiling or in the garden.

Next we came across a couple of sellers selling flower pots and saplings on the pavements. They had some rare and expensive plants. We couldn't buy anything there as they had closed sales for the day.

Throughout the ride the breeze was cool and welcoming. There was an eat out called Delhi Dhaba which was very crowded. I wondered what was going on inside because there was a lot of noise from there. Some how I am put off when an eat-out is named Dhaba. It makes me skeptical about the place, so we didn't check out on this.

Next we saw an open movie theater called 'Prarthana'. Its a cool place. You just have to go there and watch a movie in their giant size projection simply sitting in your car or on your bike or on the floor under the open sky. What better way to enjoy a sultry evening in Chennai. For a person like me from a smaller town all this is like magic and I am having a good time exploring it with my husband.

19 April 2009

Ten Golden Rules for a Happy Marriage

  • Never both be angry at the same time.
  • Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.
  • If one of you has to win an argument, let it be your mate.
  • If you have to criticize, do it lovingly.
  • Never bring up mistakes of the past.
  • Neglect the whole world rather that each other.
  • Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled.
  • At least once everyday try to say a kind or complimentary thing to your life's partner.
  • When you have done something wrong, be ready to admit it and ask for forgiveness.
  • It takes two to make a quarrel, and the one in the wrong is the one who does the most talking.

I have this list pasted on my bedroom wall.

18 April 2009


Various parts of the subcontinent follow different almanac. The eleventh day after the full moon is called Ekadasi. It comes twice a month. In all the almanac this day is considered very auspicious. People fast from food and perform not other economic activity on this day.

According to the Purana's (corollary Vedic texts written by Srila Vyasadev who is the compiler of Vedas) once there was a demon called Mura. He was very strong and had subjugated the entire universe including the upper and lower planets under his evil and powerful rule. One should note here that according to Srimad Bhagavatam, this particular universe we are in has totally seven planetary systems. The earth planet is in the middle.

The head of the demigods, Indra along with his associates from the upper planetary system appealed to Lord Vishnu to protect them from this evil demon who has snatched away their kingdom. Lord Vishnu, who is the saviour of His devotees came to fight the demon and their fight lasted for many thousand celestial years.

During the fight Lord Vishnu chose to rest for some time in a cave and reclined to it. However the demon saw this as a good opportunity to attack and kill his enemy. Meanwhile the bodily effulgence of reclining Lord Vishnu took the form of a beautiful lady called Ekadasi and fought with Mura. She defeated and killed the demon. Upon waking the Lord was very pleased with what Ekadasi had achieved. So He granted her a boon that every eleventh day after the full moon would be known by her name and that anyone who does devotion to Lord Vishnu on that day would derive manifold benefits than on other days.

Hence the Vaishnavas, worshipper of Lord Vishnu observe this day as very special and they spend the whole day in complete remembrance of the Supreme by chanting His holy name, doing bajans, reading holy scripture and associating with like minded people. They fast on this day to lessen the time spent of bodily needs and also to get the mellow mood of worship which is conducive in a not-so robust body. They fast particularly from grains. It is believed that the Sin personified appealed to the Lord for shelter as on Ekadasi everything is so pure. The Lord gave place in the grains. Hence the Vaishnavas stay away from grains on this day. Some fast on fruit diet, some take only milk, some take only water and there are some who take 'nirjala' fasting which means not even water. This is an amazing austerity that they take for their spiritual benefit.

However Ayurveda also recommends fasting with fruit diet at least once in fifteen days for detoxifying the body. Habits of the yore are, no doubt, well thought out processes that helps in overall health and well being. Good to know about them.

Kerala Wedding

I attended my friend's wedding in Kerala last year. Yesterday she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. In India as one would be aware of, there are thousand of different communities and equal number of different cultures. Here one need not go to another country to observe a different culture. Every state has a unique culture by itself. Kerala is just one hour journey from Tamil Nadu where I live but the culture and language is all so different.

The venue of the wedding is usually the brides place. Sometimes they may choose to have it in the house of the bride or they may rent a Kalyana Mandapam (Wedding Hall). The typical wedding is a two day affair in Kerala (the duration is different according to communities).

This particular wedding I am talking about took place in a temple in the bride's town. The bride's side invitees gathered in her house in the previous day itself. There was an elaborate feast at her house. The entire house was decorated with lights and flowers. This gave a shimmering as well as a fragrant experience.

I reached there in the late evening because I had a funny stint with the auto rickshaw driver who took me to a wrong village all together. By the time I was there, the bride was fully decorated and was receiving the guests. She looked gorgeous and her happiness reflected on her face. I hardly got to speak to her that evening as she was incessantly receiving her relatives and friends.

Only in night we got some time to catch up with each other. We called her fiancee and she introduced him to me. Please note that this is not a love marriage. She got to know the bridegroom just a month ago. So the shyness and a bit of that awkwardness was still there. He was a warm and jovial person and I was very happy she got a good person for her husband.

Next day the muhurtam (auspicious time to tie the knot) was to 6.30 am. So all of us woke up as early as 3.30am and started decorating the bride. This is the most important day for her and she should look her best. I tied the sari for her as I am quiet good at it. Her parents had bought her gold worth 10,000$. A normal middle class family offers so much to their daughter.

Economically well off people give four or more times more than this. This has been a practice in India from time immemorial. It initially started as creating social security for the girl. At time of adversity the couple can sell or pledge the gold given by the father and take care of themselves. The property and business go to the sons. But today giving gold is more a status symbol and marriages are more a platform to flaunt your riches. One may have heard about Arun Nair's extravagant wedding.

We all proceeded to the temple where the bridegroom's party was waiting for us. Since the wedding was in the temple they did not perform much of rituals. Usually the rituals go on for almost the entire day. But in the temple they do away all that. The couple took the blessings of the presiding deity of the temple which was Sri Bhagavati Amman, and the priest initiated a homa (sacrificial fire). The groom tied the customary Thali (the symbol of a married woman) chain around the neck of the bride. That's it! They are man and wife! They circumambulated the homa and the groom took the oath to take care of his wife till the end of his life. Ironically this is done in sanskrit language which not understandable by anyone there including the couple to be married. So the groom really does not really know what oath he has taken.

Today's Indian marriages are just rituals without any meaning attached it it. No one is curious or bothered to know the significance of what is done. There is jubilation sans meaning. But fortunately majority of Indians are bound by the society which prevents them to break the vow of marriage and so the marriage is safe. But unscrupulous people are here now in the increasing trend also. It is just some time before Indian society will also talk in the following terms-'my children and your children are playing with our children'. Luckily it is not so untill now. Or is it?


Bindi decoration is quite fascinating. It was originally a small dot made by Kumkum (Vermilion) between the eyebrows on the forehead. Kumkum is considered to be highly auspicious. There is an instance in Ramayana in which Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Rama asks Sita Devi why she wears kumkum on her forehead and on the parting of the hair. Mother Sita replied that Lord Rama likes it very much. The next moment Hanuman smeared his whole body with kumkum and appeared in front of Mother Sita.

Kumkum is considered to represent the life of the husband. Every married woman in the Vedic society is expected to decorate her forehead and parting of the hair with it.

In South India it is considered important for unmarried girls also to wear it where as in the rest of the country only married women wear it.

However the latest trends in bindis have changed the scenario. Today we have bindis in various shapes, shades and designs. They come with adhesive at the back and can be used without any effort.

During the Vedic period make-up and decoration was a kind of an art by itself which was meticulously done. The forehead, the hands, palms, feet and even teeth was decorated with designs and patterns. In the Srimad Bhagavatam there are a number of descriptions about how carefully the gopis in Vrindavan (near Mathura) decorated themselves.

There is a mention of an art form that deals with painting of teeth. Pretty amazing! I really wonder how they maintained it. I guess the decoration was meant to stay for short duration only.

IPL Setback

Radhika was waiting for Rajeev's call. Her roommates have all gone to sleep. It was already 11.30pm. Even Soha who usually speaks in whispers up to midnight was asleep. Soha looked very upset. Maybe the obvious would have happened.

Radhika was unable to concentrate on the romance between the dark and handsome baron with the fragile and beautiful antique shop owner girl from Mills and Boon that she was reading. It was a decisive day. After a long standing three year relationship with Rajeev, only today she was successful in making him decide to talk to his father about their marriage. This should not be yet another incident of dodging that he has been doing for quite some time now.

The cell phone rang. Radhika covered the ringer with her fingers so that her roommates do not wake up.

"Hello" she said.

"Ah Hello. So did your have your dinner?" Rajeev asked.

The time was 11.45 pm.

"Yes I had." she answered.

"Did you park your vehicle inside your hostel?" he asked.

"Yes I did." She spoke gritting her teeth.

"Your roommates have slept?" he continued.

"Yes they have. Did you speak to your father?" she asked impatiently.

He drew a long breath and sighed.

"I called him at 7. He was out. Then my roommates and I were watching IPL finals. By the time match got over it became too late. Hey..."

He heard the call end in a beep on the other end.

Home Manicure

Taking care of your hands is extremely important before the wedding. There will probably be no other time in your life when they will be on display more. If you don’t have the budget to get regular manicures in salons, follow these steps to give yourself a perfect manicure at home. Remember that the hands of men and women both need regular manicures to be their healthiest and look their best.
  • Cotton balls or Q-Tips
  • Nail file and/or nail clippers
  • Warm, soapy water in a shallow bowl
  • Cuticle Cream
  • Cuticle Stick
  • Moisturizing hand lotion
  • Damp cloth
The steps start by removing any old nail polish:
  1. Moisten a cotton ball with nail polish remover and wipe gently starting at the base of the nail to the tip.
  2. Use an emery board to file your nails.
  3. If your nails need to be trimmed, do so now.
  4. File your nails in one direction starting at the edges and moving toward the top and to the type of shape you want your nails to take.
  5. Soak your fingers in soapy water for a few minutes to soften the cuticles.
  6. Use an anti-bacterial hand soap or one with some moisturizers.
  7. Rub a cuticle cream on the cuticles.
  8. Use a wood stick or your fingers to gently push back the cuticles.
  9. Massage your hands with a moisturizing lotion.
  10. Then wipe nails with a damp cloth to remove any excess oils.

Ignorance and Pride Go Ill Together

The ignorant are supposedly the ones who assume great amount of self importance. This has been my latest realization in my path towards understanding human life in its pursuit of the Divine.
Ignorance maybe defined as a temporary dark state that the light of knowledge can drive away to create a permanent realized state. Hence one may see, being ignorant is not a sin nor is it a permanent phenomenon.
However the pre-requisite for acquiring knowledge is humility. In Tamil language there is a maxim that say, 'katradhu kaimann alavu, kalladadu kadal alavu'. This means a knowledgeable person is aware that what he has learnt is equal to a hand full of soil where as what is not learnt is as vast as a ocean. The more one learns the more he is convinced of this maxim.
On the other hand, an ignorant person with false prestige is of the opinion that he know a lot and his bloated ego does not permit him to acknowledge anybody else as more learned than himself. The Tamil maxim I mentioned above makes no sense to him. Such people will neither learn from others nor will they allow others to plan anything beyond their (the ignorant) knowledge.
The ultimate result is that such people will block all the developmental activities taking place in any organization they may be involved in. Above all if these people are strong in muscle power, they become a threat to the very existence for those involved in the organization.
This is one of the main reasons that many welfare organizations that started with noble objectives roll back after some time. Therefore one may conclude that when a joint venture or a group assignment is taken, one should take care to choose his partners with similar intellectual capability with humility and similar goal deep inside their heart. Failing to do so will only result in all efforts going for a waste.

Real Love

Let’s look at a typical day of a normal man. He wakes up in the morning. Exchanges loving smiles with his wife. Peps up his children. All, together get ready to move out of the house to take care of their respective jobs. At office, he answers his boss, encourages his subordinates and befriends his equals. Back home, tired, tries to help his wife in household work, helps children to cope up with modern day academic issues. Time to bed. Happy that his day went well.
In this typical day if one notices from the time he has woken he has been serving someone or the other. To start with he serves his family, then his office and again his family. One can say that our life is designed in such a way to simply live by serving the other. Now it is time to look at our own lives. Try to see what percentage of your time is used to serve people around you and the percentage used to enjoy yourself. Most often enjoying oneself has also been via the modes of serving someone else. Like for example one enjoys fulfillment by giving to others. Here again it is service that seems to give one the required happiness.
However there is one hitch in serving. We often hear people call someone else ungrateful. It is likely that those who accept service may forget about it where as one who has rendered service may remember it as fresh as green apple. This results in disillusionment and despair.Now I will give the spiritual explanation for this situation. As per the Vedic literature, every individual is a spirit soul. He is not the body. The soul falsely identifies with the body. The soul is part and parcel of God as Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita, 'mamaivamsa jivaloke' which means 'the soul is part and parcel of me (Krishna)'. The relationship between God and the living being is that of master and the servitor. The living entity needs to serve God in order to attain eternal happiness.
Serving anybody other than God gives happiness but it is temporary. Being the part and parcel of Lord Krishna it is required for the part to be with the whole in order to experience bliss. For instance what is the use of a nut or a bolt that has fallen off a machine? It gains importance for itself only when it is in its position in the machine. The independent soul tries to get back the same love it has experienced with God from every living entity it is coming across in this world but unfortunately it is cheated for only God Himself is capable of returning that unconditional love that each of us are hankering for.
Hence becoming a servant of God is neither new or an awkward stand for we are anyway servant to many in this world. So it is rather a privilege to be called the servant of God. That way we can be free of disillusionment that arises from unrequited love which is so common among the humans.

17 April 2009

Thirteenth Week Trauma

During the 13th week of pregnancy the gyne asks the pregnant woman to under go a particular scan to rule out Down syndrome. For most of the mothers-to-be this is a traumatic experience. The fact relating to Down syndrome are here from Wiki:

Down syndrome, Down's syndrome, or trisomy 21 is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British doctor who described the syndrome in 1866. The disorder was identified as a chromosome 21 trisomy by Jérôme Lejeune in 1959. The condition is characterized by a combination of major and minor differences in structure. Often Down syndrome is associated with some impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth as well as facial appearance. Down syndrome in a baby can be identified with amniocentesis during pregnancy or at birth.

Individuals with Down syndrome tend to have a lower than average cognitive ability, often ranging from mild to moderate
developmental disabilities. A small number have severe to profound mental disability. The incidence of Down syndrome is estimated at 1 per 800 to 1,000 births, although these statistics are heavily influenced by the age of the mother. Other factors may also play a role.
...The incidence of Down syndrome is estimated at one per 800 to one per 1000 births.[12] In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the rate as one per 733 live births in the United States (5429 new cases per year).[13] Approximately 95% of these are trisomy 21. Down syndrome occurs in all ethnic groups and among all economic classes.
Maternal age influences the chances of conceiving a baby with Down syndrome. At maternal age 20 to 24, the probability is one in 1562; at age 35 to 39 the probability is one in 214, and above age 45 the probability is one in 19.[14] Although the probability increases with maternal age, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35,[15] reflecting the overall fertility of that age group. Recent data also suggest that paternal age, especially beyond 42,[16] also increases the risk of Down Syndrome manifesting in pregnancies in older mothers.[17]

Current research (as of 2008) has shown that Down syndrome is due to a random event during the formation of sex cells or pregnancy. There has been no evidence that it is due to parental behavior (other than age) or environmental factors.
Pregnant women can be screened for various complications during pregnancy. Many standard prenatal screens can discover Down syndrome. Genetic counseling along with genetic testing, such as amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS), or percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling (PUBS) are usually offered to families who may have an increased chance of having a child with Down syndrome, or where normal prenatal exams indicate possible problems. Genetic screens are often performed on pregnant women older than 30 or 35.

Amniocentesis and CVS are considered invasive procedures, in that they involve inserting instruments into the uterus, and therefore carry a small risk of causing fetal injury or miscarriage. There are several common non-invasive screens that can indicate a fetus with Down syndrome. These are normally performed in the late first trimester or early second trimester. Due to the nature of screens, each has a significant chance of a
false positive, suggesting a fetus with Down syndrome when, in fact, the fetus does not have this genetic abnormality. Screen positives must be verified before a Down syndrome diagnosis is made. Even with the best non-invasive screens, the detection rate is 90%–95% and the rate of false positive is 2%–5%. False positives can be caused by undetected multiple fetuses (very rare with the ultrasound tests), incorrect date of pregnancy, or normal variation in the proteins.

Confirmation of screen positive is normally accomplished with amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Amniocentesis is an invasive procedure and involves taking
amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac and identifying fetal cells. The lab work can take several weeks but will detect over 99.8% of all numerical chromosomal problems with a very low false positive rate.[21]

The tests that the gynes suggest are not accurate in their result and these tests can cause abortions in one out of every ten cases. I wonder on what basis the doctors suggest such in-human asuric tests for to-be mothers. Like abortion, this is a serious issue we should all consider. It the name of tests they are simply promoting abortion unscrupulously. What kind of tests did our grannies take before they gave birth to 10 children in their very homes. My own granny had 8 children and all were delivered at her home. Today, I feel medicine is nothing but an unethical business.

Just the other day we took a friend who had very high fever to a local corporate run hospital. Within one hour of admitting him in the hospital the doctor asked us to take a PET scan for the patient because he suspecgted cancer. Gosh! You how we would have felt! However we took the scan immediately and it costed us Rs.25,000. The result was negative.

Later we found out that the scan center is also owned my the hospital authorities and it is a revenue generation method for the newly opened scan centre. More over PET scan is not considered for initial diagnosis. It is only to see the spread of cancer once is it fully blown. For initial diagnosis they use Biopsy. Can you imagne how cheated and robed we would have felt? They are all simply there to make money out of our misery.

Amway experience

I have heard so much about Amway that to me it had become a word that I should run away from. But surprisingly it is not so bad after all. A person known to us introduced me to Amway products. I am very impressed with it.

Especially their Home Care products are very good. I am also impressed with their Nutrilite products but in India it is very expensive. I do have Nutrilite Protein drink and their Calmag and Iron folic tablets right now but I am not sure if I would continue it after my pregnancy is over. Because I may not be able to afford such high price for a health drink. I wish they could make it a little more affordable.

I was surprised they had already brought to the market phosphate free cleaners. WHO has asked the detergent manufactures to come out with an alternative only by 2010. I like Amway products.

14 April 2009

Life revolves around home

I am a housewife for now. I am going through the best part of my life - expecting my baby in next few months. After a bout of morning sickness that got me to shift from one house to another, now I am feeling normal except for some back aches occasionally and some swelling in my feet.

My husband and I were previously living close to a garbage yard. We had rented that house not being aware of the garbage yard close by. The house itself was good with two bedrooms and all facilities. But there used to be stench from the dumping yard. Adding to the misery was the buffalo herds that use to parade everyday through the house to graze in the garbage yard.

We decided to move out of that area and launched a house hunt. After seeing 35 houses we ended up in the present house. Our adventures while looking out for a house can in itself become the subject of another post. Ultimately we are now in our present little house which is not big but comfortable. It is in a decent locality and ocean is just 500 meters away from where I live.

My life revolves around my home mostly. I have beautiful set of deities on my altar to whom I offer regular prayers and services. Here is the picture of my home altar:

I worship the beautiful forms of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra Devi. From today Tulasi Jala daan starts. Offering water to Tulasi plant this month is considered very auspicious. I made arrangement for this in my terrace today. This seva can be done for the entire month.

13 April 2009

Why blog

Life is one bundle of confusion that revolves around what is right and what is wrong. Most of us face confusion from within than from outside, the fact that we conveniently don't like to accept.

We are often caught at crossroads not knowing which road to take. This often puts us in unwanted stress. I have often wished I had a to-do list for everything and I just didn't have to think so much before taking decisions.

This wish was partially granted when I got in touch with the Hare Krishna people way back in college. It was good to know that there is Shastra that recommends a particular way of life for better physical and mental existence. This information that I found in the Bhagavad Gita and in Srimad Bhagavatam lessened my burden of taking my own decisions.

It was such a relief to me because all I need to do is study these time tested books and try to lead life like that. I have tried and so far it has brought some peace in my life. I believe the more I try, the more I may benefit. This blog will record my pursuit in this line and of course, I would write much more about whats happening in this corner of world.

08 April 2009


Welcome to my blog! This is my dairy. You are welcome to read it.